Ahwatukee is a great community. We have special days for supporting our businesses. Now it is time for our businesses to support our community. They either support Ahwatukee or they don’t! Those who support Ahwatukee need to “put their money where their mouth is.” All others are supporting the greed of the transportation industry.

Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) was formed in 2006 because we knew there was something fishy about the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT’s) insistence that the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (SMF) had to replace Pecos Road and blast through South Mountain. So when ADOT released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the SMF in April, PARC looked to well-credentialed experts to review the document. The experts’ findings were astounding.

The bottom line is that ADOT has been lying to us for years. Our experts found that the SMF would NOT improve traffic congestion and it would increase air pollution to irreversible, unacceptable levels that would put Phoenix — especially Ahwatukee — on the road to Los Angeles-like smog.

Big money from the transportation industry is behind this freeway plan. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and ADOT are puppets, and they will do anything to please their masters. Not only are the industries in the area of 51st Avenue salivating at the prospects of a shortcut truck bypass through Ahwatukee, the Picacho Peak area will be sporting an “inland port” soon. All these interests are counting on the SMF to provide a shortcut so they can save big money on hauling goods. Their greed overshadows reason about where to put a freeway to benefit the Valley of the Sun.

Government agencies can work well when the public is a watchdog to ensure that they serve the people as intended. PARC has seen, however, far too many examples of what can happen when oversight is missing.

Our nationally-renowned expert on the effects of air pollution found that pollution within a half mile of the SMF would cause great harm to children and seniors in particular. Additionally, everyone within 3 miles of the proposed freeway would be in danger when any of the thousands of trucks that would travel the SMF daily would create a hazardous material spill. Gasoline, sulfuric acid, and the very deadly chlorine gas would be in those tanker trucks on the SMF. Yet ADOT’s DEIS does not even mention this danger or how/if it could be mitigated.

Will you be responsible for watching ADOT destroy our community just for the sake of greed, or will you step up and join those of us who support Ahwatukee and stop them?

PARC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as the focal point for the efforts to stop the SMF. PARC has garnered from the experts all the ammunition it needs to win a federal court case. What it still needs is community support backed by significant financial support from Ahwatukee businesses. It takes big money to fight big money.

Donations may be sent to PARC, P.O. Box 50455, Phoenix, AZ 85076-0455. For more information and to make credit card donations, visit PARCtheSMF.org.

• Pat Lawlis is president of Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children. She holds a PhD in software engineering from Arizona State University, and has lived in Ahwatukee for more than 20 years.

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